nulla tenaci invia est via - For the tenacious, no road is impassable

This update would not have happened without the magnificent, stupendous, brilliant Tara (Iwriteblogsnottragedies) who you should all follow and praise immediately. As usual, it all belongs to JKR. Except Mellard. He's my retail spirit animal. Enjoy, and make my week with a review. Oh and Happy belated Easter!


"You're not going to be able to clear this, George."

George sprang up from the window, snapped out of his reverie. Below him the crowd had only grown as the heat of the day intensified whilst the noon sun shone upon the sweltering mass. Percy had been silent for all of an hour; the only noise in the cramped office was that of quill upon parchment.

"Why? What makes you say that? It's all legal, it's perfectly safe."

"It's technically copyright. You see, by ministry standards, new potions for patent have to significantly differ from originally patented potions in three core ingredients. You've altered the consistency of the original Excito Animatum from a thinner substance for emulsion to a semi-obtuse agent that allows easier viewing, but in terms of actual core ingredients, discounting the addition of memories which you don't want to mention on the ministry report, you need to make at least another major substitution before you can patent your product."

George felt like a moron, standing there blinking. But seriously. It was hard to keep up with Percy when he got on a roll. Way too many long words. Now Fred would have summed that up neatly with a 'Shit, we're fucked, quick add something else in, and maybe it'll be right.'

"So what do we have to change?"

Percy looked up from the papers in front of him with an awkward frown.

"Potions never was my strong point. I made passable grades. Got an O.W.L in it. But I didn't bother going for the N.E.W.T. Not the most distinguished field after all. Better to play to ones strengths."

Fred would have gone with a simple 'stuffed if I know mate'. But Perce was trying. He was still here. George would just have to go through his research again. Thank god he'd only given Hermione a duplicate. He'd pop by The Burrow quickly now, and if he was lucky he'd be able to slip inside Dad's sheds without Mum throwing a tanty.

He'd just have to struggle through the substitutions the best he could.

After all, it wasn't as though he could run to Hermione for help.


Four towers stood before her. Manila, parchment, and A4 Muggle paper lined up in stacks upon the neatly made bed. The Delacours' home was immaculate. Hermione could easily see why Fleur was not in the least bit awestruck by the drafty Scottish castle of Hogwarts. The spare room she'd been ushered into last night was lost in her distraught memory as simply dark, and containing a bed. When she awoke that morning she was stunned to see the neat, country accents upon what was probably antique furniture. She'd awkwardly made her way down to the kitchen along with the mid-morning sun and felt alien amidst the beautifully decorated home. It belonged in one of the magazines her Mum would buy, which peddled the ideals of country living before she relented to her husband's pragmatism and bought flat-pack furniture like the rest of their London neighbors.

The welcome of the Delacours had been just as bizarre. Last night she had the faint impression of bursting into their home, and then into tears. That morning, however, the older couple had pressed a cup of coffee into her hands, and waited patiently as she told her story in a mixture of broken French and English. They had murmured and gasped in all the right places and promptly told her she could stay there as long as she needed to. They waved off her apologies for putting them to any trouble. Mrs Delacour had the same willowy beauty as her daughter and it was easy to see where Fleur inherited her Veela genetics. Mr Delacour beamed away all through breakfast, and was more than happy to speak English with her, asking after Mr and Mrs Weasley and the young Harry Potter. Truth be told, Hermione couldn't picture a more unlikely couple, the tall beautiful French woman who had immaculately set up her home and the short somewhat eccentric wizard who had spilled eggs down his robe while trying to pronounce 'dentistry'. But they looked happy. Beyond happy. Hermione soon learned Gabrielle, now 13, wasn't likely to rise from her bed until at least noon. There was still a month left of summer before the girl went back to Beuxbatons, so her parents were content to let her rest, although they apologised on her behalf. Hermione only smiled and waved off their concerns. All she needed was a few hours. A solid nights sleep had done her the world of good and she was ready to organise her offensive. After her request for a map sent the short wizard dashing about the house and returning with 4 separate directories, metro maps and timetables, Hermione retreated to the spare room she had left that morning.

With the window propped open and cheesecloth curtains wafting with a summer laden breeze, Hermione felt calm for the first time in days. It was on autopilot that she retrieved various lists and folders from her bag along with a fresh sheet of parchment. This was do-able. It was a simple matter of time management and resource allocation.

On her left she smoothed out her original lists for, as George had unfortunately named it, 'Operation Granger.'

More harm than good- Majority of magical population

Use of anti-contraceptive potions (Caligula): Publish paper on dangers of consumption

Magical economy can't sustain long term benefits Bill?

Precedent laws pure bloods?

HUMAN RIGHTS!

{{Women's jobs}} - Carers jobs

Uselessness- More harm than good.

No proof law will expand population – squib birth rates?

Previous devastation of magical community: Dragon pox, Grindlewald, Riddle's interlude. Statistical comparison. {Hogwarts register?}

DNA research – Stroulger? {Last resort.} {Switzerland}

Publicity (Eugh)

Golden bloody trio nonsense

Skeeter

WWW Orbs, Joke products, radio?

Hollywood Harpies? – Ginny

Luna

It all looked so clear cut. A list of dot points to speedily crossed out. Beside this Hermione set out the bulky manila St Mungo's folders, George's research transcript, her correspondence with 'A Posse Ad Esse', and finally the largest of the four borrowed maps.

Hermione grimaced at the letter from the potions publisher. Even sitting unobtrusively in its envelope the words, only once read, still jumped out at her, ringing through the silence.

"Miss Granger. Due to recently received complaints regarding the originality of your research, we at A Posse Ad Esse are forced to reluctantly suspend you from publication for a period of three months while investigations are under way."

Bah.

She shoved it to the bottom of the pile. There was nothing to be done about it. She didn't want to think about the hand written postscript that lined the bottom of the page, hastily added in by Dom, the magazines editor.

"Hermione, this is all just a matter of formalities, take no notice. APAE will be happy to take any of your research on board. But you had said you'd made no contact with the elusive Professor Snape! I don't think a publisher has heard from that man in a good ten years. Hermione, get me an article from him and I'll publish anything your heart desires!

Devoted, as always,

Don xx"

As if she had any hope of that. Not now, with everything else under the sun to worry about. From her bag she drew out her wallet and scrounged through the bottom layer of debris for any loose coins floating about. Sighing in defeat, she drew out George's brown quill and absently set out the parchment before her.

Where on earth did she begin? She had yet to hear from Dennis, and the mobile sat silent on the bedside table almost tauntingly. She had 16 pounds and about 50 more if she got a chance to exchange her galleons and sickles over for Muggle money. Which was unlikely. She wasn't even sure where the nearest Wizarding bank was and-

Oh shitting arse, head and hole.

Would her account still be open at Gringotts? The Goblins had put her through absolute hell over a year ago when she collapsed her Muggle bank account and set up her own magical vault. That was simply revenge for successfully robbing Gringotts. Now that she was genuinely classed as a felon attempting to flee the law. Could Bill sort out her account? He'd originally agreed to look into how the ministry would be funding the proposed- no, new! - Marriage law. But then that was before she'd brought Auror's crashing down his door and absconded with his wife's international port key. Still. Hermione could only ask.

At least she had her first dot point. She thanked George silently for his gift as the quill glided along the page without needing stops for extra ink. Soon the Hermione of old took over and the page before her took shape.

- Wait for contact from Dennis.

- Ask Bill to secure my account as soon as possible.

- Ask Ginny to send Rita Skeeter to Fleur's uncles cafe in Paris, 'The injured accordion'

- Ask Harry to contact Minerva re. Hogwarts registers. (Can they be duplicated and sent?)

- Contact Lucy? (Ron?) Hospital records.

- Head into town, internet café for accommodation.

- Musee de la Poupee (hospital)

There were so many variables left in the air, but Hermione couldn't plausibly add anything else to the list without also adding a multitude of question marks and drenching the tone with doubt. Better to start small. Set herself up first. With a determined hand she circled the route Mr Delacour had described from his brother's cafe to the Parisian Wizarding hospital, marking the café BA and affixing the hospital with an arrow and MDLP. Apparently Mr Delacour was positive his brother would be happy to help her, and as a wizard he would be able to contact whoever she wanted for her, if her mobile ever served to fail. He had seemed quite apathetic towards her use of technology, regarding it without either fear or awe. He had offered to take her and Gabrielle into town after lunch, and without missing a beat mentioned the Internet café she could visit there. Perhaps only British wizards were luddites. Hermione now looked forlornly at the research before her. The list and maps had taken her the better part of an hour and it was almost 11:30. There was no way she could get through the research before she had to leave and she was loathe to start it now, only to abandon it half way. In any case, she rationally knew that without a lab in which to work, the files were almost useless. She would secure accommodation in Paris, and then appeal to the hospital there tomorrow. Technically she was accredited to use a hospital research station. As long as they hadn't heard the fate of St Mungo's, she might have a chance at convincing them.

A slim chance was a chance all the same.

With that disheartening thought, the phone beside her finally began to ring.


George didn't know who he was kidding. There was managing not to completely botch a batch of pepper up, and then there was making major modifications to an already complex potion and hoping it could then sustain a never before noted infusion of memory.

The former, he could just about do.

The later, he didn't have a Bowtruckles hope in hell.

He was buggered. He didn't even know if Dennis has managed to ring Hermione yet. He was still holed up in Dad's shed avoiding Mum. Even if Dennis had got a hold of her, George knew she had enough on her plate right now. If he knew Hermione, she'd have jumped straight into the thick of it. He could ask Ginny to give it a look over; she'd never been too bad with potions. She'd been smart enough to keep her head down, listen, and not annoy the great bat which-

The great bat.

He had shown up at the Burrow last night. He'd shown up with Hermione's research as well. George could have sworn he'd seen that infamous spidery scrawl over the parchment. If Snape had given the work a read through- well, even if he hadn't there was no denying the man was a genius when it came to potions.

Would Snape bother helping him though? He'd never given Fred or George the time of day when they were at school. He'd been even more aloof once they'd joined the Order. That said, he had had a lot on his mind back then. Besides, hadn't the man come barging in to talk to Hermione about her Dittany research? If she'd gotten him to help her on that, surely he'd at least look this over.

Then there was always gold. Gone were the days when he and Fred would bicker about expenditure.

Then again, gone were the days he and Fred would bicker about anything.

Resolutely lifting the box of filed notes, George set off. What did he really have to lose after all?

It was only Snape.

Besides, if he did end up losing his other ear, his head wouldn't be so lopsided anyway.


A quarter of the way through his first bottle, he still couldn't think of the word.

Two thirds of the way through, he'd abandoned his tumbler, swigging straight from the bottle.

It was half way through his second bottle that the burning sting in his throat finally dulled. The numbness swept through his limbs. The sight of his feet, white, stark against the flagstones was blurred. His stomach broiled, spitting acid, frothing to be filled with something, anything. He knew it had to have been at least a day since he'd eaten. The stubble on his cheek meant it was at least that long since he'd bathed as well.

He couldn't fathom his legs into moving. The floor had suddenly jumped from so very far away to beneath his nose. Oh, he'd fallen over. He dimly noted the wetness seeping through his thin shirt and struggled to rescue the toppled bottle. Even as his body screamed in protest he brought it to his lips once more. He might as well have something to retch up later. The kitchen was leagues away. Why on earth had he built the fucking thing , if he was too inept to fucking fill it? When was the last time he'd eaten anything other than Minerva and Narcissa's gifted entreaties?

Appalled?

No.

No, not the right word.

At least a week? Before he'd read the blasted article. Potion article. Not prophet article. The prophet article had arrived two thirds of a bottle ago. Time was arbitrary. He'd shuttered up the windows long before. It was unseemly, drinking in daylight. With a stumbling lurch he managed to scrape himself from the floor, the bathroom door rushing towards him as he fell clutching the white porcelain bowl. The acid roiled through his throat. The stench of bile mocked him.

The word wasn't horrified.

It definitely wasn't horrified.

He heaved again but his stomach refused to co-operate. It had calmed when he'd at last subscribed to the disturbing truth. The cold tiles imprinted onto his knees, and Severus let his head rest on the toilet's rim while he traced the gaps with unsteady, shaky fingers.

Not shocked though.

Not stunned.

Her eyes.

Her eyes had-

No.

His grip on the white porcelain held shakily as he lurched to his feet, scrambling, his head spun, the room swirled beneath his feet and he couldn't stop the leer that sprang to his face, revolted at his state, at himself, at his hand as he reached for the abandoned bottle once more to drown out the image of the girls watery eyes as they lit in recognition and cringed from his face to the port key as though loath to spin away. The amber liquid burned and burned but the image remained.

Confused.

Regretful.

Scared.

He was losing it. Going senile. He was a lecher. Perverse.

To think those eyes could ever look at scum like him with anything but disgust. The bottle in his hand flared green and he let it shatter to the floor before realising the floo behind him had surged to life. For once, as he spun towards the intrusion, he didn't have to lift a disparaging sneer to his face.

"Who's come to mother me now?"

Even to his own ears the slur of his voice was pronounced and it took him a beat to realise that the hearth was filled not with a witches' bad tempered judgement. George Weasley stared up at him aghast, the green flames clashing wildly with against his red visage.

"What'd you want?"

The boy just gaped. Oh right. He should probably switch to the greasy bat persona.

"Ennuuunciate"

The boy's eyebrows couldn't possibly have risen higher, and still, with a jolt at Severus' unplanned outburst, they tried.

"Sorry sir?"

Snape could feel the blood rush to his face and yet he still felt it as though from far way, the heat not registering among the brilliant whiskey induced numbness. He glared at the boy and tried not to sway too obviously on his feet. Sit. He should probably sit. How the fuck had the chair gotten so far away?

Distraction.

"What do you want?" The bark was enough to set the boy stuttering and Snape used the time to fall gracelessly into the low-lying chair. He grimaced as he realised sitting was probably invitation for the boy to stay.

"I don't think you're in a state to talk professor. Circe, how many have you had?" Severus scowled at the two faces swimming before him. One face. Where was the other one?

Dead.

Just one. How dare he lecture him? What did the brat want anyhow? What could a Weasley be doing marching in here- oh

"Is it Granger? Where is she?"

Subtle.

Lecher.

Fool.

He could have kicked himself. The words had tumbled forth on their own accord, he swore on it. The boy looked at him with- was that pity? Surely not. Severus looked down at the bottles on the floor, and then palpably felt the stubble on his chin and his day old suit. The growl that rose in his throat made the Weasley physically start.

"Get in. Sit. I'll be back." Severus paid no heed to his unsteady gait and instead concentrated on not cracking his head with a fall down the stone stairs as he fetched a sober up potion from the basement.

The clear blue potion brought the room back into focus, and Severus was rewarded with a dull throb for his efforts. His head protested immediately, and his throat felt run dry. One of these days he knew he'd have to put a stop to this foolishness. He was pathetic. What was he even doing carrying on with this worthless fucking existence?

Coward.

Just do everyone a favour and put it to an end. You'll never make amends and you don't deserve to live. You don't deserve to squander away your life after taking so many others.

Why was there a Weasley in his sitting room?


Slugger and Jiggs had never been the most tasteful establishment. As far as apothecaries went, they were low on the list for service, wait time and comfortable arrangement. The shop was narrow and crooked, built on a slight slant and nestled between one of Knockturn alley's dingier drinking establishments, and what was almost certainly an unmarked brothel. As such, Mellard Fallow hadn't had a crowd in his workroom for nigh on thirty years and this morning had sent his dirty grey hair a full three shades lighter. Not that you could tell for all the grease in it.

They'd been lined up outside before the shop had even opened. He'd been tempted to simply floo back on home, and leave the shutters drawn. But even he had begrudgingly realised that a crowd meant gold. Especially with this sort of crowd. Robes held up high around their faces. Nervous glances down the alley behind them. Noticeably not making eye contact with one another. It was always the good sort that held the most gold, and it was always the good sorts who were hopeless at blending in. Honestly.

So with that in mind, he'd flung the doors open, and let the nervous wave of people wash in. They hadn't stopped all day. Most of them were older, in their 50's and 60's. Some couples, and a fair few young women.

All with the same order.

Contraceptive potions.

Anything we had.

What did I mean we were sold out?

Well dear, you see what I meant was, we're bloody sold out.

Yes I do know we've just opened.

No I know I don't have to take that tone with you ma'am. It's just a perk of the job.

How could someone have possibly bought up the entire bulk of stock yesterday? Well sir, what happens is, a witch or wizard enters the shop, makes a selection and pays for their goods with tender known as Galleons. In exchange they receive their order, cease asking stupid questions, and then kindly bugger off.

No, I can't whip up a batch now.

Yes, a potion that takes a full moon cycle generally takes 'an entire month'. That's sort of how it works.

No, there isn't a manager you can speak to.

He'd plastered a sign out front by lunch time.

"No. We don't have any contraceptive potions. Bugger off."

That at least had stemmed the flow. It did unfortunately mean that the only people who continued to breach the threshold of the shop were utter idiots.

The bell rang.

Or should he say, the warning gong sounded.

The door opened and Mellard shifted up from his desk. He'd have to put up another sign.

"No, before you ask I can't make an exception, we'll have the potions ready in a month, no there isn't a waiting list, no there isn't a manager you can speak to and yes I realise I am being exceedingly rude."

"What potions?"

Mellard stopped abruptly as the man before him smiled pleasantly.

Ah.

He'd forgotten that not everyone was a complete bastard.

Some tried to smile their way into your pockets.

"The contraceptive ones, sir. We're fresh out."

"Not to worry."

Mellard starred at the man in front of him. The man was average height and blonde, his robes light grey and pressed and his smile cool and pleasant.

"I'm actually not here for a contraceptive potion, that's witches business as far as I'm concerned." The man chuckled genially, as though he hadn't made a terribly arrogant and misguided remark. "I'm after a tracking elixir. Non Ducor Duco.

Mellard had to forcibly remind himself to shut his wide-open gob. He'd not brewed Non Ducor Duco since the first Wizarding war. The Auror's hadn't used it in the final aftermath. It was hard to come by the blood of the target, and it wasn't overly difficult to just trace magical signatures. Sooner or later the con's slipped up and reached for their wands. He knew a man who went two years as a Muggle, and then accio'd a box of tissues without thinking when he had the flu. It was the little things. If this bloke had gone to the trouble of collecting someone's blood and wasn't prepared to wait for a slip up, well, Mellard doubted he had the best intentions.

"You've got a blood sample?" It was best to be sure. After all, the bloke might not know what he was about.

"Yes."

No. The clear intensity in his eyes betrayed his intent. There was no way this was any sort of benign business.

"Right you are. I hope you've got the gold for it sir, it's not every day I brew one of these."

"Price is no object. Just so long as it works."


He's baaaaaaaack.